Review of ‘Rising above’ by Genevieve Fortin.

Ana Bloom is an engineering geologist in a sabbatical leave researching the effects of climate change in rising sea levels in the small town of Sainte-Luce-Sur-Mer. She is convinced that people have to relocate away from the coastline as the consequences of climate change will eventually hit it with destruction and life loss. She settles in the White Sheep Inn and soon she befriends the innkeeper Yvonne and her dog Miller. But Yvonne’s granddaughter, Melodie, isn’t convinced by Ana’s theory and sees her as a threat to her life’s values. Melodie is cold towards Ana and downright rude. But when a storm hits the White Sheep Inn both women will have to learn to join forces to fight it it and in the process discover their own feelings.

This book is plot driven around the conflict between Ana, who is

strongly convinced that the only solution to rising sea levels is to relocate away from the coast, and Melodie, whose livelihood means to live by the sea. The author states that despite she was always aware of the consequences of climate change, researching for this novel gave her a new level of consciousness.

As a native of the nearby town of Rimouski (Quebec, Canada), Ms. Fortin describes beautifully the charm of Sainte-Luce-Sur-Mer, along with the very real threat to its coast by human actions. The author makes a fantastic case for climate change awareness and what people can do about it. However, the romantic storyline didn’t work for me as the environmental one. Unfortunately, I couldn’t connect with the characters fully. Melodie is a hard to like character who at the beginning comes across as disrespectful and immature. This first impression is hard to reverse even by understanding her reasons behind her bad attitude, specially in her relationship with her mother. The opposite happens to the other main character. Ana is more likable and well rounded but her out of character reaction in the middle of the book is unappealing and feels more as a plot device rather than her normal actions. As a consequence, the conflict feels a bit forced and contrived.

The novel is written in third person from the point of view of both main characters set in the present with flashbacks from one year earlier. The secondary characters Yvonne and Miller the dog are, in my opinion, the best part of the novel. As in ‘Dingo’s recovery’, the dog acts as a facilitator in a human relationship, in this case, the friendship between Yvonne and Ana which feels warmer than the romance itself. Thomas, Melodie’s little son is well portrayed and he brings to light a much needed caring side of Melodie though, for me, it wasn’t enough to like her.

Overall, a good story to raise climate change awareness that falls a bit short in the romance department. 3.5 stars.

ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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